Pseudo self-forgiveness : a response to self-integrity threat.
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Carpenter, Thomas P. (Thomas Philip)
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Self-forgiveness has been promoted as a self-compassionate response following ownership of one’s transgressions. However, a sense of self-forgiveness may also result from defensive processes that circumvent responsibility, dubbed "pseudo self-forgiveness" (Hall & Fincham, 2005). Following self-affirmation theory, I predicted that responsibility avoidance and perceptions of self-forgiveness would be reduced if self-image is protected. Participants (66 male, 47 female) were given either affirming or non-affirming personality feedback and were led to believe they had let down a fictitious partner. Affirmed men expressed less self-forgiveness, mediated by increased responsibility. These effects were not observed among women. Findings suggest some apparent self-forgiveness may reflect ego-defensive attempts to avoid accountability; however, more research is needed. Implications for self-forgiveness theory and measurement are discussed.